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2014 Texas Gameday HQ Round 2

FIELDING The Cardinals will move Carpenter from second to third, insert highly touted prospect Kolten Wong at second and bring in speedy, sure-handed Peter Bourjos to play center. Those moves should upgrade a defense that turned an NL-high 177 double plays last season, and also led the NL with a .988 fielding percentage, committing a league-low 75 errors. Molina is second-to-none behind the plate, having won six straight Gold Gloves, and ace Adam Wainwright took home his second last year. Pete Kozma, second in fielding percentage among NL shortstops, brings a steady glove off the bench, as do Shane Robinson and Daniel Descalso. Tony Cruz is a quality back-up for Molina. STARTING PITCHING Cardinals starters won an NL-best 77 games with a 3.42 ERA (second) in 2013, surrendering the third-fewest runs (404) and earned runs (374), while allowing only 76 home runs (second). Wainwright led the way, winning an NL-high 19 games, leading the Majors in innings (241 2/3) and ranking third with 219 strikeouts. He walked only 35 batters all season. There’s no let up after Wainwright, as next are playoff hero Michael Wacha and 14-game winner Shelby Miller, both 22, lefty Jaime Garcia, providing he can overcome shoulder issues, Joe Kelly (10-5 in ‘13), and hard-throwing Carlos Martinez, also 22. Lance Lynn may be the odd man out despite winning 15 games and throwing 201 2/3 innings in 2013. RELIEF PITCHING Trevor Rosenthal has said he prefers to start. Opposing hitters probably would, too. Rosenthal, who took over as closer in late September, saved his final three opportunities, without allowing a run or a hit, and didn’t allow a run in 10 playoff appearances, covering 11 2/3 innings, surrendering only four hits and three walks while striking out 18. Setting up Rosenthal from the right are ground ball specialist Seth Maness, who induced 16 double plays, and former closer Jason Motte. From the left side, Kevin Siegrist had a 0.45 ERA, held hitters to a leaguelow .128 average (lefties hit only .118), and ended the season with 25 scoreless innings, and veteran Randy Choate went 35 1/3 innings without allowing a homer. MANAGING Mike Matheny has done just fine in replacing Hall of Famer Tony La Russa. In his two years on the job, he’s become the first Cardinals manager, and only the eighth in Major League history, to get his team to the postseason each of his first two seasons. He’s won a total of 185 games, 97 and a division crown last season. The 2014 season should make it 3-for-3. GM John Mozeliak has been masterful rebuilding the roster since taking over in October, 2007 — only Molina and Wainwright remain from the ’07 team. The Cardinals have averaged 89.7 wins and made the postseason four times in six years, winning two World Series. Yadier Molina RONALD MARTINEZ/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


2014 Texas Gameday HQ Round 2
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